Nacho Arimany
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"Silence-Light: Nacho Arimany and World-Flamenco Septet - Fresh New Talent"

By Marc F. Turner

The mysterious and beautiful art-form of Spanish Flamenco music is re-interpreted in composer/percussionist Nacho Arimany's, Silence-Light, a unique listening experience that features the Madrilenian and his World-Flamenco Septet. The genre has been covered before within various idioms, and while the sounds are familiar (precision handclapping and foot-stamping) there is more than what is heard as Arimany states that "The music isn't an esthetic end, but rather a channel to generate movement or communication."

This is articulated by Arimany's inspired performance and direction of exceptional musicians representing the fundamental links of Flamenco music including guitar, vocals (featuring Antonio Campos), and dancing (performed by Concha Jareño). Add well-crafted contributions by bassist Massimo Biocalti, pianist Pablo Suarez, and rising jazz/world players—guitarist Lionel Loueke, and saxophonist Javier Vercher—and the result is a mesmerizing project.

The music indulges many sounds and influences including spirituality, folk, dance, and poetic forms that smoothly flow between each other. This is most evident on larger pieces like the commencement call of "Origen" which contains the sounds of percussion, running/splashing water, woodwind instruments, and chant-like voice, all moving into different compositional sections. Recorded live, the recording feels episodic with sections described by instrumental, dance, or vocal movements similar to a live theatrical work.

Each member of the septet provides excellent performances. Arimany's passion is heard in his playing, painting each piece with ethnic drum-set (which includes exotic percussion) as well as guitar and voice. Discriminating lines are also drawn by Loueke's acoustic or synthesized guitar and West African vocals on "3 Angels" mixed with Arimany's percussion to create a peculiar new world sound.

Along with Arimany, the intricate workings of Biocalti's bass and Suarez's piano provide more than just a jazz trio foundation but also acts as a conduit between the various changes. Saxophonist Javier Vercher makes his presence felt by adding contour texture and mood in depending upon the mood—sometimes primitive ("Below The Sea Level") or jazz-oriented ("Soleá Del Viento"). The spirits of dance and song are always present and Concha Jareno's footwork is an added percussion instrument on "Meeting Point," while Antonio Campos' remarkable vocals are playful and romantic or haunting on "One Old Song."

As the recording began, it ends in mystery and expectation with "Kyrie-Luz," as Arimany plays an affecting solo piano. Jazz and flamenco may have crossed paths before but Nacho Arimany brings a fresh approach with ideas that have yet to be discovered.

Track listing: Origen; Homenaje A Morente; Below The Sea Level; One Old Song; Silence;Meeting Point; 3 Angels; Soleá Del Viento; Kyrie-Luz.
Personnel: Nacho Arimany: ethnic drum-set, spanish guitar, piano (9), vocals; Javier Vercher: saxophones; Lionel Loueke: guitar, vocals; Pablo Suarez: piano; Antonio Campos: flamenco singer; Massimo Biocalti: bass; Concha Jareño: flamenco dancer.

- ALL ABOUT JAZZ


"April 1, 2007"

Percussionist, musician and nearly a musical philosopher inasmuch as his ideas are dense and open to the world, Nacho Arimany is without a shadow of a doubt a separate case on the sometimes compartmentalized flamenco scene. An encounter between two world quite different in principle (jazz and flamenco), his album proves to be a very advanced exploration of the flamenco universe open as broadly as possible to jazz's avant-garde. That is how guitarist prodigy Lionel Loueke offers us the accumulation of his experience. Arimany himself is a sort of great percussion wizard who leans on very solid knowledge to deliver real musical journeys sometimes over twenty minutes long ( Origen and Solea del viento)! The result is an album which somewhat redefines for the 21st century a type of music, flamenco, already crossed by multiple musical experiences. Unique and indispensable.

La abeille musique. France
Translation: Joseph Kopec - LA ABEILLE MUSIQUE. FRANCE


"January 1, 2007"

By Javier Primo

Nacho Arimany presents his first work, Silence-Light, recorded in New York with his septet. A dense and beautiful work...a personal expression drawing from flamenco, jazz and ethnic influences, it sends us on a spiritual journey inward to a curiously pagan religion.




- ALMA 100: FLAMENCO MAGAZINE


""You don't need to make up new rhythms, but rather go on deciphering cante's rhythm""

Interview by Silvia Calado
Madrid, February 2007
Translation: Joseph Kopec

Flamenco looks out at the world. Little by little, the musical dialogue is on the rise, the borders thin. And further proof of the transit along that road is World Flamenco Septet, a project led by Nacho Arimany. The Madrilenian percussionist and composer has dared to experiment with something apparently as basic as the “commitment to music, admiration and respect”, bringing together flamencos and jazz players. It happened one afternoon last spring in New York, in a circle of musicians with a bailaora in the middle. And it worked. The result is ‘Silent light’, an album carrying within it a firm philosophy with regards to creation, percussion and the evolution of flamenco... facing the world.


A pumpkin from Mali, the gateway to flamenco:

A corner in Lavapiés with the lingering aroma of tea inspires the conversation. Sitting on a rug in his house-studio, a former neighborhood bakery, Nacho Arimany relates that he entered the world of flamenco through a curious gateway: the Spanish Dance and Flamenco Choreography Contest of Madrid. First, he won a prize for a farruca composed for the bailaora Cintia. Next, he was asked to form a percussion group. And he was already inside. Moreover, he had an original added value: “I started to introduce the use of the pumpkin as a percussion instrument, which has made a place for me in flamenco. Though it was all little by little, from scratch, approaching the style with the box drum. I’d been instilled a classical music education at home, and flamenco meant breaking away from that”.
Academies, tablaos and baile, forever baile, were his school for eight years. The calls then started coming from the companies: “The most important step was taking part in ‘Live’ and ‘De amor y odio’ by Joaquín Cortés, which made me learn another style”. And he developed it little by little, composing for bailaoras such as Rocío Molina and Rafaela Carrasco, sharing with musicians like saxophonist Jorge Pardo... His collaboration with Gerardo Núñez in the show ‘Los cuatro elementos’ at Flamenco Festival USA was a turning point: “I stayed in New York for a month at saxophonist Javier Vercher’s place and he was really interested in that timbre I was working on”. And they prepared a concert together for the University of New York, an experience of use to him to “go on growing in timbre; I felt that the pumpkin was more earthly, even sharper than the box drum. In New York, I began to explore and trust more in what I was doing. I started stringing together the compositions from that encounter which, beginning with flamenco, were in my head”.

Though the concept had to be defined more exactly: “It had to have flamenco metrics, but giving it a more universal style, like jazz”. And without giving up the element which had opened the way to him: baile. Nacho Arimany explains that “baile makes me understand the style of the music, since to me it’s a fundamental part of staging the music and the base of the album”. And he reflects that “the music isn’t an aesthetic end, but rather a channel to generate movement or communication”. He deduces this maxim from “my travels in Africa, where I discovered that percussion is an element for festivals and the most important thing there is for people to express themselves by dancing, which is motivation to create and to connect with people’s most intimate selves”.

All of these thoughts come together on the album ‘World Flamenco Septet. Silence light’, which started off as an assignment for the Canaries Film Festival. “There, we proposed that the universe of music and dance is the same, that we have the same need to move”. In Javier Vercher and Lionel Loueke, “I found that same version of the sentence from jazz, like a cosmic commitment to music of playing to reach a certain place. That’s the kind of jazz I learn from. And we offer the tradition of baile and the strength of flamenco to jazz”.


New York story of ‘Silence-Light’:

And then talking about the album, 'Silence light', Nacho Arimany comments that “it reflects the experience of an encounter between two worlds, like a document I guide by proposing settings, roads to travel, but leaving an open ending for each person to express himself”. That’s the secret of the record, the freshness of the moment: “The album has been recorded live, after rehearsing just the previous afternoon. With the premise of admiration and respect, we managed to create a common world. That’s the magic of the album”.

On the flamenco side, the Madrilenian percussionist and composer had cantaor Antonio Campos, pianist Pablo Suárez and bailaora Concha Jareño. And it wasn’t an easy task, since he says “it was hard to find flamenco artists who would fearlessly get involved in the project, who were capable of admiring the music of others and communicating with them”. But he managed to. “Pablo Suárez played a double role, since I knew that wherever the cante went as far as harmony goes, the piano would be there, providing the flamenco subjection. Moreover, he contributed feeling, musicality and the bridge to unite us with the jazz players. He even managed to get into the other side and reveal his true self, coming with me both in the rhythm and the timbre”, he explains. In the case of cantaor Antonio Campos, “he was fearless from the beginning despite the fact that the style I’d developed in my compositions with Javier and Lionel was different for cante due to the harmonies. I was seeking music and reliability. And I found it. Moreover, complete understanding arose between the guitarist, though he wasn’t flamenco, and the cantaor, as well as respect and admiration”.

The baile was a different matter. He admits that “Concha was the one most scared because my aim was to make music out of baile. She has very sensitive musicality in her feet, though improvising with her was harder. Beyond playing and dancing, the entire recording was like rolling up into a ball of energy. And in the end she came in both with her feet and her clapping”. To do so, he made a peculiar sketch of the septet’s layout at the studio, so that everyone formed a circle with the bailaora in the center: “You can hear the baile on the album due to the footwork, but her movement generated inspiration”. Just letting yourself go with the flow of such intangible concepts could make the experience flow: “Jazz means freedom and commitment to music”, he judges.

-And doesn’t flamenco mean that... or does it mean that in a different way?

"Flamenco does it differently. It’s hard for flamenco to create live. All the shows are really calculated now. There are new nuances because in each performance there’s new energy. We’ll only have the freedom to surprise ourselves when we’re committed to music and when there’s no hierarchy. In World Flamenco Septet, we’re seven bosses with a crazy guide."
And the jazz ‘bosses’ understand that perfectly. Nacho Arimany recalls that he met Javier and Lionel at the Café Central following a concert by Enrique Morente, whom he dedicates a song to on the album: “They came to my place and told me, without ever having heard me, to come the next day and play with them”. It was an unforgettable experience for him, since “at first I didn’t understand a thing, but truth and honesty came to me which filled me with fear. I tried to plunge in and I understood that the only way was to look inside myself. I felt the same again as when I’d started playing; that sensation of freedom, strength, union with others”. And there he finds a clear difference from flamenco, “which is like always outwards; on very few occasions can you look inside and give your truth”. And he’s constantly surprised by who his colleagues are who made him look inside. “Imagine, Lionel is Herbie Hancock’s guitarist; he’s like the promise of jazz guitar. And Vercher is the next Spanish saxophonist, of the following generation to Jorge Pardo”. And also by the fact that they “had to encourage me to make my own music in New York”.

The idea of universality runs through this project from beginning to end. Nacho Arimany argues that “music is a universal language and flamenco is music and is perfectly understandable for everyone. You have to open up and share it and let yourself be surprised by what there is out there”.

-And how do the musicians out there react to flamenco?

"They react with respect, and starting there, they go on to give their heart. So mixture is always going to be permissible: with a noble heart, with a sound from within and with musical wisdom. I remember that when we met, I played the album by Ramón Jiménez for them at my house and I’ve never seen anyone listen to music so deeply. That’s why when a musician is into the music there’s no mystery. That’s why the bulería on the album was recorded in a single take. Nothing was prepared; I just told Lionel and Antonio, 'go ahead'. And it all just happened, even though it was the first time for both of them."

-And what did flamenco give to you musically?

"Flamenco has given me really strong rhythmic training which allows me to get myself across. Flamenco rhythm helps me get myself across."


Philosophy of percussion:

It is now time to delve deeper and reflect on the present and future of percussion in flamenco. Nacho Arimany is convinced that “there’s still a long road ahead, which I’m excited about”. He adds that “as far as timbre goes, there’s an entire world to be discovered, to color in, more than to seek complex rhythms. Percussion gives colors”. And with regards to rhythms, he explains that “there are other really rich traditions which can be learned, especially the Iranian, North African and Sufi, which can be added to flamenco”. And how? His answer is clear: “A current of research on rhythm has to be generated, since there are many ways to mark the beat”. And he looks towards voice: “You don’t need to make up new rhythms, but rather go on deciphering cante’s rhythm and give it color. Of course, we’re going to continue learning from each other”.

And then the magic word springs up in the conversation: the box drum. “Percussion is young. The reference is the box drum, but let’s not forget that what Paco de Lucía did was to seek an instrument he was interested in to support the music of his guitar. Why don’t the rest of us use that same process? When I play por bulerías, I play my bulería, not the pattern that was useful to Paco for his guitar”. But he isn’t against the box drum: “I love it because it’s really powerful, but even with regards to baile, the pumpkin’s sharper”. He argues that “each percussionist should discover for himself which instrument is good for him; each person should research his own style”. And he makes a proposal: “To keep on insisting on the language of clapping, since it is its anthropological instrument and it’s always going to be the best one, though it’s complicated and really hard."
Looking ahead, he thinks about the need “to create a more musical rhythm, for example, like the zapateado with a score for clapping done by Manuel Liñán. And there are already recorded sketches, such as the beginning of the latest album by Tomatito. The question is for the phrases to be richer, for there to be a melody in the rhythm. There’s a lot of research to be done in that way of musicalizing the rhythm."

That’s where his thoughts lie while he is getting ready to travel to the United States, where he takes part in Flamenco Festival USA 2007, involved in the Rafaela Carrasco Company. “Her show ‘Una mirada del flamenco’ also sets out to share styles, and I find that really nice”. So for the new show by the Sevillian bailaora, ‘Del amor y otras cosas’ which premieres at Festival de Jerez 2007, he adds “and I’ve done an entire percussion piece for it”. They put it together right here, in the former wine cellar in the basement where, after no small effort, he’s set up his studio and his living ‘museum’ of instruments. Leafing through his agenda, he also has upcoming engagements with Jorge Pardo, Enrique de Melchor... though what he’s interested in is to make his World Flamenco Septet known. Nacho Arimany and the world. Nacho Arimany and flamenco “which keeps on feeding me every day... and heals me. May the dialogue live on!."
- Flamenco-world.com


Discography

Silence-Light (2007, Fresh Sound Records)

Photos

Bio

Nacho Arimany’s rich music career began at the age of six as a classical piano student and singer with RTVE Choir and Orchestra, as a soloist in the 23rd International Congress of Child Singers in Italy, and sharing the stage with Montserrat Caballe in La Atlantida, Falla’s piece at the Opening Concert of the Auditorio Nacional de Espana. In his teens – while on a coming-of-age trip through Europe - he discovered the world of African percussion and immediately upon his return to Spain immersed himself in North African and Afro-Cuban percussion, Txalaparta (Basque country), and Flamenco rhythms.

In 2000, Arimany joined company Iberica de Danza on their tour through China and Thailand, marking his entrance into the world of Flamenco. From there his career took off as one of Spain’s most sought-after percussionists, collaborating with Flamenco notables such as Joaquín Cortés (Live and De Amor y Odio world tours), Gerardo Nuñez and Carmen Cortés (Los 4 Elementos Spain, USA and Japan), along with dancers Rafaela Carrasco, Rocío Molina, Manuel Liñán, Olga Pericet, Nuevo Ballet Español and María Juncal.

The unique character of Arimany’s playing style and the diversity of his capabilities soon attracted the attention of artists outside the Flamenco world, bringing him into the broader scope of World music with Perico Sambeat and Jorge Pardo (2004), and Simon Shaheen and Gerardo Nuñez at New York’s City Center (2005). His music soon evolved even further to the more abstract Jazz world, where he formed close friendships with saxophonist Javier Vercher and guitarist Lionel Loueke. After several collaborations with Vercher and Loueke, including the European Jazz Festival (Athens 2005), New York University (2005) and the 30th Victoria Jazz Festival (2006), Arimany felt inspired to start his own project, one that would integrate his experiences in Flamenco, World music, and Jazz. Thus, the Nacho Arimany World-Flamenco Septet was born. The group debuted as part of a commission by Arimany at the International Film Festival inaugural gala in Gran Canaria in 2006 and released his premiere album Silence-Light under Fresh Sound Records in 2007.

Since then, Arimany has worked with numerous musicians and performance artists worldwide: collaborating with the Antarctica Collective in Pluton, an installation premiered at 3-Legged Dog in New York’s Celebrate Mexico Now Festival (2007); composing and conducting a new work for Global Perfussion, a gathering of 15 percussionists from around the world, in 2008; and performing with electronic/pre-Hispanic music legend Jorge Reyes and the folkloric Nok Niuks in Mexico City’s Grand Zocalo (2009). In November 2009, Arimany rejoined Global Perfussion on tour in Bamako, Mali, and Tenerife, in partnership with the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional (AECI).

Nacho Arimany's current project continues his exploration of the "new Spanish" sound in the form of an experimental jazz trio with pianist Robert Rodriguez and bassist Michael O'Brien.

For more information: www.nachoarimany.com, www.myspace.com/nachoarimany
For booking: Marisa Clementi
GEM : Global Entertainment & Management
718.483.8726
marisa@gemnyc.com